New Scopes Trial Photos on the Flickr Commons

This entire "Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes Trial" set on the Smithsonian Flickr Commons.

George Washington Rappleyea (l) and John Thomas Scopes (r), 1925, by Watson Davis, Black and white p

We have exciting news at the Archives. In honor of the “Scopes Monkey Trial” upcoming anniversary on July 10–21, the Smithsonian Institution Archives is releasing a new set of twenty-five portraits of scientists who agreed to testify on behalf of the defense at the trial from our Science Service collection. These rarely-seen photos, which are assembled together for the first time on the web, have been added to the existing “Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes Trial Photographs” set on the Smithsonian Flickr Commons.

Dubbed "The Trial of the Century," the Scopes trial of July 1925 tried and convicted high school teacher John Scopes for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution, and engaged the US in a debate over the mixture of religion and science in public schools. Those of you who are Flickr Commons fans are probably aware of the Archives’ existing set of photos from the trial. For those of you who aren’t, these images of the trial were discovered in our Science Service collections in 2005 by Marcel C. LaFollette—an independent scholar, historian, and Smithsonian volunteer.

College student William Silverman (at right), standing with his former high school teacher, on the l

All of these Science Service collection photographs—both the images documenting the trial and the newly added witness portraits—were taken by Watson Davis, Managing Editor of the syndicated news service Science Service, while he was in Dayton, Tennessee, June and July of 1925. We first added Science Service photos of the trial to the Flickr Commons in 2008. In 2010, we were excited to add ten snapshots of the trial donated by Henrietta Silverman Jenrette, and taken by  her father William Silverman, an amateur photographer who attended the trial (read more about the donation). Today, we’re thrilled to add these new Science Service portraits of trial witnesses to the set.

Also, we’re excited to blog about these newly added images over the next two weeks during the anniversary of the trail. Marcel C. LaFollette, who you may recognize from her posts on the blog, and who wrote a book about the trial entitled Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century (University Press of Kansas, 2008), will be blogging about the witnesses in detail, and we’ll also have an announcement about some of our Scopes images next week as well.

So tweet or Facebook these new images to your friends, and stay tuned for more on the Scopes Trial in the coming weeks!


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